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It's shocking (and not entirely surprising) that as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, voting rights of African-Americans are being taken away by rightwing state governments, using the very techniques that the 1965 Act prohibited -- techniques that were legalized after the fact by a partisan Supreme Court. In the South of the 1980s and 1990s, there were bi-racial voting coalitions that elected economically centrist and racially moderate governors and senators to statewide office, even in the Deep South. Bill Clinton of Arkansas was one such governor. Albert Gore, Jr., of Tennessee, was one such senator. Those days are just about gone. The Republican Party in the Deep South is a mostly white party and the Democrats mostly a black party. The GOP has successfully played the race card, and biracial governing coalitions are getting scarce.
Learning history awakens, enlightens and forces introspection. But when historical items become icons, the facts take a back seat to dogma. South Carolina finally has taken down the symbol that when I was young I did not fully understand. It's now time for the rest of us to understand the hate such a symbol represents.
THE WORLD POST
The question answered by the South Carolina House of Representatives today is whether their state government, as a political and democratic institution representing constituents of all races, should maintain on its capitol grounds the very flag it placed there 50 years ago to protest the civil rights movement.